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Durham Light Infantry, 28th Battalion

Home Service battalion

Before the First World War began in August 1914, the Durham Light Infantry, County Durham’s own infantry regiment, was made up of nine battalions each of about 1,000 men. There were two Regular battalions of full-time professional soldiers, many of whom came from outside the North East of England; two Reserve battalions of part-time volunteers and ex-Regular soldiers; and five Territorial Force battalions of part-time volunteers centred on key County towns. There was also a Depot or headquarters shared with the Northumberland Fusiliers at Fenham Barracks in Newcastle upon Tyne.

By the end of the war in November 1918, the DLI had grown to 43 battalions, as new Reserve, Service, Territorial, Young Soldier, and other battalions were formed. Of these 43 battalions, 22 served in war zones from the Western Front to the North West Frontier of India.
During the First World War, when a new recruit joined the Army, he was medically examined before being assigned a category. An “A1” recruit was considered fit for active service on the front line; a “B1” recruit was fit enough to serve in a garrison overseas, for example in Malta, or in France but not on the front line; whilst a “C1” recruit was only fit for garrison or other duties in Britain or Ireland.

A soldier’s medical category, however, was not fixed. Wounds, illness, or incapacity could see an “A1” soldier re-classified as “C1” and moved from a front line battalion to a home based unit. Then in March 1916, conscription was introduced in Britain (but not Ireland) for all single men aged between 18 and 41 and this brought many more category “C” recruits into the Army. In May 1916, conscription was extended to married men, and in April 1918 the upper age limit was raised to 51 years.

Three new DLI battalions were raised after conscription was introduced in 1916 – the 25th, 28th and 29th Battalions.

The 28th (Home Service) Battalion was formed at Frinton in Essex on 27 April 1918, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Richard Cardiff, an old Durham Militia officer and Boer War veteran, who had, until then, been in command of 3 DLI in South Shields.

Little else is known about this short-lived battalion.

Contributed by Durham County Record Office